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Take Two for Hill, Smith

by Scott Agness | @ScottAgness

June 24, 2013

A pair of familiar faces were part of the Pacers’ sixth pre-draft workout. Solomon Hill and Andrew Smith were brought back in for a second look. This time, both players had a chance to interact with the coaches.

“It can always mean good things and good intentions, and sometimes it could mean they want to see you compete against other players that they have,” Hill said of his second visit. “I take everything for what it’s worth. I’ve very thankful for the opportunity to work out and try to have a good showing.”

Hill, an intelligent fourth-year player from the University of Arizona, said he approached it just like the other 17 or 18 workouts that he’s completed – work hard, be a team player, and show what he can do in 3-on-3 sets. He’s heading into the draft with an open mind and no projection.

“I’m just staying around family [in Los Angeles] and waiting for my phone call,” he said.

Hill, who averaged 13.3 points, 5.4 rebounds last season at Arizona, may still be available at 53 when the Pacers are on the clock for the final time on Thursday.

Smith, meanwhile, is a local product from Covenant Christian High School and Butler University. He’s remained in Indiana to prepare for the draft and what’s in store for the 6-foot-9 center. Already, he has summer league invitations from both the Pacers and Oklahoma City Thunder, which he’ll likely decide on if he doesn’t hear his name called on draft night.

“It’ll have to be a right place right time deal to play in the NBA,” he said. “I’m comfortable with that fact [of possibly playing overseas] and I’ve known that for a while. I’ve had a good opportunity to come out here and work out for some teams.”

Monday was Smith’s sixth pre-draft workout and just his first duplicate. After moving through the process and working out alongside many draft hopefuls, Smith has learned plenty about his own game and how it stacks up with others.

“It’s a level playing field and you really see the small things make a difference.”

Wolters Proving Himself, Again

The Pacers have an obvious need at backup point guard and Nate Wolters would be thrilled to be that guy. Out of South Dakota State, Wolters has had to prove himself his entire career, so these pre-draft workouts were no different.

Wolters was at Bankers Life Fieldhouse Monday for a workout with C.J. Harris, Solomon Hill, Brock Motum, Andrew Smith, and Tony Snell. Wolters, along with Snell, are highly rated by many mock draft boards – (take those for what they’re worth) – and are projected to go as high as late first round.

Related: Soft-Spoken Snell Speaks Up on the Court »

Out of high school in Minnesota, Wolters had just three scholarship offers: North Dakota, South Dakota and South Dakota State, according to Rivals.com. He wasn’t ranked and had no star rating to his name. Fast forward four years to today, the 6-foot-5, 196-pound guard is expected to get a shot in the NBA.

And should Wolters be selected near the end of the first round, he’d be going to a winning situation. It would also mean a guaranteed contract worth more than $1 million.

“More importantly, I just want to get a right fit – a place where I can compete for playing time right away,” Wolters said. “Just as a competitor, you obviously want to go as high a pick as possible. First round would be amazing. That’s a goal of mine.”

The Pacers hold the 23rd pick in Thursday’s draft and it wouldn’t be a surprise at all for them to target a backup point guard.

“I would be a good fit,” he said, “that’s why I’m here, hopefully. They’re a good organization and had a great year this year. [They have] a lot of good, young guys so I think it’d be a lot of fun to play.”

Wolters is a pass-first point guard. Unlike in college, where he averaged 22 points, 5.8 assists and 5.6 rebounds per game, his role in the NBA will be as a facilitator.

“I think that’s natural for me,” he said.

Despite playing against Summit League competition last season, he also defended the likes of Trey Burke (Michigan) and Isaiah Canaan (Murray State), both highly rated point guards that’ll presumably go ahead of Wolters.

If you’re looking for comparisons, Greivis Vasquez (New Orleans) and Goran Dragić are the two Wolters singled out. They are all bigger points guards – George Hill is 6-foot-2, for example – that are craftier than they are explosive. Wolters is shifty, handles the ball well, and can step past his defender.

Since his career at South Dakota State ended in the second round of the NCAA tournament against Michigan, Wolters had been working out in Florida. His workout in Indianapolis was his 12th.

“It’s been a long, long process but it’s been a lot of fun as well,” said Wolters. “It’s really exciting. Obviously I’m a little anxious and a little stressed out not knowing. A lot of uncertainty right now.”

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